Looked at from the perspective of American tastes, the most charitable thing that can be said of the cuisine is that it's a work in progress. On the positive side, the breakfast and lunch buffets featured a slew of tasty Norwegian delicacies that would be hard to find in that variety or quality anywhere else in the world. We're talking four or five different varieties and preparations of salmon in a single buffet, moose and reindeer meat, fresh shellfish and smoked seafood and sausages. However, the finishing details were lacking. At breakfast we found not fresh linen but paper napkins the size of those doled out by soda fountain table-top dispensers. And aboard this ship self-service buffet really does mean self-service; don't expect stewards to hover around with carafes of coffee or to help with your tray. Paper napkins were the norm at lunch and dinner as well, though larger than those offered at breakfast.
For those who wish a more extensive number and variety of choices, it is possible to order an optional a la carte dinner menu a day in advance. This option, however, carries the stiff extra charge of 350 Kroner (about $55). This menu, which remains fixed throughout the voyage, include choices of a warm salad with king prawns, ragout of scallops "Noilly Prat," and tatar of reindeer fillet for starters; lightly roasted breast of duck, fillet of monkfish or fillet of reindeer as main courses; and cloudberry parfait, chocolate symphony or a cheese plate as dessert courses.
There is also a 24-hour cafe on Deck 5 which serves pre-prepared cafeteria items as well as cooked-to-order pizza, burgers, hot dogs and fries. But prospective passengers should be aware that this cafe is not a free amenity; there is a charge for each item that finds its way to your tray. A burger and fries runs 90 Kroner (about $14) and pizza ranges from 63 to 98 Kroner (about $10 - $15.50) depending on size and toppings.
Critic's Caveat #1: Those who have food issues (vegetarians, those with allergies or dietary restrictions, etc.) and don't wish to have to pay extra for their meals would be well advised to discuss these issues with their travel agents prior to booking the cruise. For those who don't mind paying extra, it is possible to examine the dining room dinner menus for the entire cruise at the Deck 8 bar any time during the voyage.
Additional Hurtigruten Midnatsol Information
- Crew: 75
- Launched: 2003
- Decks: 7
- Passengers: 674
- Registry: Norway